This paper describes isolation and identification of a virus (termed strain 87A) which has the cytopathic effect and haemagglutination properties of hepatitis E virus (HEV). This virus was isolated by tissue culture from the faeces of a patient with acute non-A, non-B enteric hepatitis in Xinjiang, China. The isolated virus was neutralized by acute phase sera obtained from other patients with acute non-A, non-B enteric hepatitis. The virus particles also could be specifically aggregated with acute phase sera from patients with known HEV hepatitis in China, Burma, India and the U.S.S.R., and with acute and convalescent sera from an HEV-infected chimpanzee. Crystalline arrangements of virus particles in the cytoplasm were observed by electron microscopy in ultrathin sections of infected cells. The sedimentation coefficient of the strain 87A virus particles in sucrose gradients was 176S. Purified virus particles revealed a protein band of about 76K on SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. The evidence indicates that the strain 87A virus is an HEV. Our ability to propagate HEV in cell culture should facilitate research on this hepatotropic virus.


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